Precisely Adjusting Table Column Widths

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 15, 2020)

You can, if you desire, adjust the width of table columns by using the mouse. (Just click on the column dividing line and drag it one way or the other.) If you want to adjust the size of table columns so they are precise, it's pretty hard to do using the mouse. You can precisely adjust column width by following these steps:

  1. Select the column whose width you want to change. Word displays two additional tabs on the ribbon: Table Design and Layout.
  2. Display the Layout tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Properties option in the Table group. Word displays the Table Properties dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Column tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Column tab of the Table Properties dialog box.

  6. Using the Preferred Width control, set the column width as desired.
  7. Use the Previous Column or Next Column buttons, as desired, to select other columns.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have set all the column widths desired.
  9. Click on OK to close the Table Properties dialog box.

If you find, after performing the above steps, that the column widths don't "hold" to what you specify, it could be that your settings are being overwritten by another table setting. Go ahead and, once again, display the Table Properties dialog box, but this time display the Table tab. Near the bottom of the dialog box, click the Options button. Word displays the Table Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Table Options dialog box.

You want to make sure that the Automatically Resize to Fit Contents check box is cleared. Now you should be able use the earlier steps to set column width, and it should work just fine for you.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5928) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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